Monday, August 30, 2010

More on "versus"

I am more convinced that versus is an English coordinator and that, perhaps, it has never been a preposition. For one thing, I can only find three examples of versus X used as a complement. The first two are here:
In truth, however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself, i.e., his essence.... " (n12) BEING VERSUS AMERICA # A profound gulf between Heidegger and Tocqueville becomes obvious as soon as we compare their views on America. (from "Tocqueville's Practical Reason", by Hancock, Ralph. Perspectives on Political Science Fall 98, Vol. 27 Issue 4, p. 212.)
The redox behaviour of 1,2- and 1,3-dithiadiazoles (D), with a wide variety of R substituents has been studied by using cyclic voltammetry (CV) Most of the compounds (D) behave as reversible redox systems. Typical half-wave reduction potentials for 1,2 compounds are versus the standard calomel electrode (SCE) while those for the 1,3-isomers are 0.2V. (from the BNC; not sure about the original source)
The first one is rather hard to parse, and I'm not sure it's relevant. The second strikes me as ungrammatical. I'll get to the third below. I might turn up more examples with more searching, but none of the examples from the OED, or any of the other dictionaries I've checked, show a complement use.

Nor can I find much evidence of it being modified. I did find one example of this is just versus a computer, which is also a complement. And another example modified with just and functioning as an adjunct.
The cloth spider is lossy and this inherent loss results in hysteretic behavior with respect to reaction force versus displacement. Hysteretic refers to changing behavior of the spider, not just versus displacement but also the direction of the displacement (Fig. 1).
In general, then, versus doesn't behave very much like a preposition, and I would speculate that it this is not a new development.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"Multiple coordination" with prepositions?

In yesterday's post about slash, Geoff Pullum wrote:
With coordinators you can get what is called multiple coordination, as in red and orange and green and yellow and blue, which doesn't group the color names together in clusters of two, it just connects all of them. With prepositions you don't get that.
Last night this came back to me as I came across the words versus while reading. It's another of these Latin preposition-cum-English something-or-others. "Could you chain these without nesting," I wondered. This morning, I find that indeed you can. Here are some examples:

Friday, August 27, 2010

Slash and cum: coordinators

On p. A15 of today's Toronto Star, we find reported various discoveries: heretofore unidentified sea life and two planets transiting the same star. Another discovery was going on around the same time, but since it's in linguistics, it's almost certain to be entirely ignored by the press. Granted, the discovery has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal, but that would make no difference. You will simply never see a headline like "New English preposition discovered" (except, perhaps, in The Onion).